You can trill with the best of them. You can flip into that light airy pop sound without even thinking about it. And your gritting rock tone could rival the roar of a wild animal. You have arrived, right? Not so fast, my singing ninja friend.
Wanna know if you’re really a good singer? Wanna know if your voice itself (the technique that makes all of your styling work) is really strong? Are you willing to look under the hood and see if all your bells and whistles are hiding gaps and weakness that are putting your voice at risk for vocal damage?
Well, then. Read on.
What is Vocal Styling?
Styling is anything we use to dress up a song; slides, dynamics, laying back or pushing a note, trills, etc. Think of styling as a huge palate made for dozens of colors we use to paint a picture with our voice.
Styling should be a conscious decision, not an accidental habit. You wouldn’t paint a landscape with only two colors and make all the shapes the same size. You’d think about what colors are appropriate for different parts and you’d be careful not to paint over important details. That’s the way to approach vocal styling.
One of the biggest downfalls found in styling come when we learn by copying what we hear other singers do. We think that if we can copy what they do we will be good singers just like them. But what they do, where and how they do it in a song, may cause problems when you try it on.
Some Styling is Hiding a Weak Voice
Copying another singer’s styling would work perfectly if we all had exactly the same type of voice, the same range and the same vocal tendencies. But….we don’t.
Our voices are as different as snowflakes. So when we copy what another singer does we could be, and most often are, shoving a square peg in a round hole.
That means we’re asking our voice to naturally do what it just can’t naturally do. End result: vocal strain, weakness in parts of your range, a limited range, damage….the list goes on and on.
Some Styling is Sticking You in a Vocal Rut
Some of your styling may not be causing any vocal problems but instead may be such a habit that your voice literally can’t style a song any other way. That means you’re painting the exact same picture with every song and that gets old to listen to.
To develop as an artist you need to know where those ruts are so that every song doesn’t sound exactly the same.
Some Styling is Over Done
Bling is a good thing. But just like jewelry on a little black dress, restraint draws attention to you, not your bling. That’s what we want as artists.
Why is over styling a bad thing? Because styling, just like color, can be used by anyone. People won’t keep coming back to listen to you because you can do a mad trill. They will come back because you let them connect with who you are, your songs and give them an experience they can’t get from every other singer that can do a mad trill.
Don’t let styling take a more important place than it deserves.
How to Test Your Styling
Remember when you just sang songs straight; no fancy stuff? Yes, the good old boring days. Well, I’ll bet you can’t do it now. Don’t believe me? Try it!
When you sing a song with NO styling, it’s really easy to hear weak places your styling has been hiding. You can hear if your real voice is strong and fluid or if there are weird spots or limits to your ranges you didn’t really notice before.
Removing styling lets you to hear how good, or not, your vocal technique (the engine that runs everything) really is.
Fixing problems in your voice always begins with getting solid technique training. Our tendency to style over unsure spots will only lead to more vocal problems.
Build a stronger voice and learn the basics of styling and you can create any picture you want and paint beautiful songs like a pro with ease.
If you’d like to understand the basic types of vocal styling so you can start mixing and matching and creating your own unique vocal style, check out the video how to: 7 Steps to Successful Styling.